Sustainable separation technology makes new applications possible | 8/2/2019 | Staff
MireilleMireille (Posted by) Level 3
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Membranes are widely used to separate substances from each other, for example in water treatment or kidney dialysis. Membrane technology saves energy and water, and has a small CO2 footprint. Unfortunately, large quantities of toxic solvents are needed to produce the membranes. Vidi researcher Wiebe de Vos has developed a green alternative production method, which makes new applications possible.

A membrane is a thin, flat solid that works as a fine filter. For example, it can allow water to pass through, but it filters out bacteria. The most commonly used production method for membranes is relatively simple and allows a wide variety of pore sizes to be made. Unfortunately, this method requires large amounts of solvents that harm human reproduction and are very difficult to remove from the wastewater and the membrane itself. However, removing the solvents from the membrane is vital for medical applications.

University - Twente - Wiebe - Vos - Associate

At the University of Twente, Wiebe de Vos, who was recently appointed associate professor, is working on a clean alternative that is just as simple. An added benefit of his method is that an even greater variety of membranes can be produced. "This development can be compared to the transition we saw with paint. That used to be full of harmful solvents, but now most of the paint you buy in the hardware store is based on water. With our new production method, we are on the verge of a similar transition to a cleaner product in membrane technology. And the nice thing for manufacturers is that they only need to make minor adjustments to their current equipment."

De Vos's method is called Aqueous Phase Separation and is based on charged polymers. "We prepare a solution of two different polymers with a high pH value. Under those circumstances, one of the two polymers is negatively...
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